When the Toronto Maple Leafs signed David Clarkson as a free agent this summer, he was hailed as a missing piece to the Stanley Cup puzzle. The team loved his grit, sure. What they loved even more was his presence as a power forward that could bang bodies down low while scoring dirty goals.
Clarkson hasn’t been doing enough of what made him so successful with the New Jersey Devils since joining the Leafs, and as a result he’s been demoted to the third line for the time being. At least that’s the case if Monday morning’s practice was any indication.
Head coach Randy Carlyle moved Clarkson off of his usual spot on the second line and replaced him with Nikolai Kulemin according to The Toronto Sun. Carlyle spoke to Lance Hornby of the Sun and explained the rationale behind the demotion:
We haven’t seen the mix of Kadri and Clarkson be effective enough for us … We’re not creating enough. We waited to do an analysis over the three games (on the recent road trip) and felt there wasn’t enough there. You always try to put people together we think are going to fit.
That means that the high-paid winger could be skating alongside Carter Ashton and Trevor Smith when the Toronto Maple Leafs try to snap a four-game losing streak. That will be a tall order since they’ll be taking on the San Jose Sharks this evening. Of course what happens in practice can sometimes stay in practice and this could just be meant as a wake-up call for Clarkson.